FWC: Be a beach hero for sea turtles and shorebirds | News, Sports, Jobs – SANIBEL-CAPTIVA

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FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reminds the public that sea turtles and shorebirds still depend on Florida beaches for nesting. You can help nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings, as well as shorebirds and flightless chicks, by giving them space, removing beach gear at night, keeping beaches clean and dark and filling in the holes dug in the sand before leaving.

Florida’s sandy beaches provide critical nesting habitat for several species of sea turtles and shorebirds at risk. Some sea turtle hatchlings are still emerging from nests on many of the state’s beaches, trying to make their way to the ocean. Any interference, including artificial lights and getting too close, can cause newborn babies to become confused and bewildered, jeopardizing their chances of survival.

Shorebirds and seabirds also depend on beaches for successful nesting, resting and migration. As shorebird nesting winds down for the season, flightless chicks and juveniles are still present with their parents on many beaches. Florida beaches are also home to vulnerable shorebirds and seabirds year-round. Birds, such as the piping plover and red knot, return to the beaches to replenish during migration and stay for the winter. Giving shorebirds and seabirds space to rest and feed benefits them all year round.

Sea turtles and shorebirds can benefit when swimmers take a few simple steps:

– Close curtains after dark to ensure nesting turtles are not disturbed by interior lights when they disembark and hatchlings are not disoriented when emerging from their nests. Ensure that any outdoor lighting required adjacent to nesting beaches is long, low and protected. Avoid using color flashlight, cell phone lights and taking flash photos after dark on the beach.

FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION Royal Tern.

– Clear the way at the end of the day to help nesting sea turtles, emerging hatchlings and shorebirds. Obstacles on the beach and holes in the sand can trap or prevent hatchling sea turtles from reaching the water and adult sea turtles from being able to nest. It is therefore important to remove all toys and beach furniture before leaving. If you or your family dig a hole on the beach, keep it closer to the waterline to avoid active sea turtle nests, and be sure to fill it before leaving to avoid entrapping sea turtles and hatchlings and chicks of flightless shorebirds. Garbage and leftover food attract predators that can prey on hatchling sea turtles and flightless shorebirds, so it’s important to properly dispose of these items after a day at the beach.

– Give space to sea turtles, emerging hatchlings and shorebirds. Getting too close to hatchling sea turtles or nesting sea turtles can prevent them from getting where they need to go. If an animal changes its behavior when you approach, it’s a sign that you may be too close.

For more information on sea turtle nesting and how to help, visit MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle or check out the FWCs “Be a Beach Hero” brochure. For more information on shorebird nesting, go to MyFWC.com/Shorebirds and download the “Share the beach with the birds that nest on the beach” brochure.

If you find an adult sea turtle or hatchling in distress, call the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic at 239-472-3644 or the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s Sea Turtle Hotline at 978-728-3663.

FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION Loggerhead sea turtle hatchling.


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